Protest outside detained journalist Yousef al-Shayab’s court
An international media rights group on Friday questioned the Palestinian Authority's pursuit of a journalist who reported on allegations of corruption at the Palestinian mission in Paris
A representative of the International Press Institute says the PA has no reason to jail Yousef al-Shayeb while it investigates allegations of libel and defamation over a story he filed for a Jordanian newspaper in January.
Naomi Hunt, head of press freedom activities for Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, told Ma'an that if officials from the mission in Paris and foreign ministry feel they have been maligned, "they as individuals have recourse to civil actions, but there is no reason to jail Mr al-Shayeb while he is under investigation.
"If indeed Mr al-Shayeb is facing criminal charges, IPI would note that laws criminalizing press offenses are unnecessary given the existence of civil remedies, and serve only to deter investigative reporting. Certainly journalists should never be jailed as a result of their work, and should not be compelled to reveal their sources.
"Mr Al-Shayeb and his editors (at al-Ghad) should take responsibility for the story they published, but the imprisonment of Yousef Al-Shayeb is a violation of press freedom and we hope he is released immediately."
On Thursday, PA foreign minister Riyad al-Malki defended the arrest and suggested he and the government were victims. "I'm surprised some journalists reacted emotionally on behalf of their colleague without hearing the other side's case, or considering for a moment if Yousef al-Shayeb is the oppressor or the oppressed".
He maintains al-Shayeb knew beforehand of falsehoods in his report, which claims al-Malki illegally promoted a diplomat to the post of deputy ambassador despite having knowledge of his ties to foreign intelligence.
Meanwhile, Palestinian journalists and human rights groups are denouncing the arrest.
The Palestinian center for development and media freedoms, known as Mada, demanded al-Shayeb's release and called for an end to "the policy of arrest and detention of journalists" in Palestine.
"Shayeb was simply doing his job as a journalist," the group said Thursday.